Today I have been married to my wife, Anne, for 24 years, which works out to roughly half my life.
Can you think of ANYTHING you've done for half of your life, continuously? I know somedays it feels like you spend half your life looking at your cell phone, or replying to email, or waiting on hold with the cable TV company, or cleaning up messes made by children, animals and spouses. But do the math: 24 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes = over 12 MILLION minutes you would have to spend doing something to add up to half a lifetime. (Your age may vary.)
What else could you do for half your life?
WORKING: Nope. Even assuming that you got your job at age 16, you would then have to work more than 12 hours a day, every day of the week, for 32 years just to spend 16 years working. And then you've got those 32 to catch up. Sorry.
SLEEPING: I wish. If you're lucky, or just an industrious narcoleptic, you might get 12 hours a day, but if you're a regular person you clock less than 8 hours per night's sleep. Sure, as a kid you logged a few extra hours--but if you had kids, you blew that surplus years ago. Try again.
THINKING: The mind is always working, right? So that's 16 hours of thinking per day, right? Wrong. The mind often lets your body go on autopilot while you get through the day, and even when you concentrate REALLY hard, your Twitter feed pings and that's it for the Train-of-Thought Express. In fact, look at the people around you and you'll see that most of them aren't thinking so much as impulsively lunging at the nearest shiny thing.
BREATHING: If you're reading this, chances are your body is doing this automatically. Either that or you have a bad case of apnea. We can assume you've been breathing your whole life, so if half your time is spent breathing in and half breathing out, then you've been doing one or the other for half your life.
Ever since April 6, 1991, I have been a husband to my wife EVERY SECOND. While I'm sleeping, eating, driving, reading--I'm Anne's husband. If I'm thinking about it or not thinking at all, I'm Anne's husband. No matter what is happening to me, around me or without me--I'm Anne's husband. Given the logic expressed above, the only thing I've been doing longer is breathing, and since that day in Duke University Chapel twenty-four years ago, being married has become just as vital and life-sustaining to me.
I'm not saying it was entirely effortless; at times it's been difficult, even hard work. Sometimes it's so hard it makes me want to cry. But sometimes, even BREATHING requires so much effort that it hurts. That doesn't mean I want to stop--in fact, even when it's tough to do, breathing is precious to me, and beautiful more often than not.
Sure, I've been breathing longer than I've been married, and it will always be that way. But look at it like this: I plan to breathe and be married to my lovely wife for the rest of my life.
Happy Anniversary, Anne. After all this time you still take my breath away, and give it back to me.